Where to Live in San Diego: Choosing the Right Neighborhood for You

Thinking about buying a new home in San Diego, but not sure where to start? We’ll help you understand your options when choosing a neighborhood, as well as provide the homebuying resources you need as you navigate the road ahead.

Why Live in San Diego?

From the golden coast to the rolling desert hills, the serene beach towns to the lively Downtown, it’s no wonder so many people choose to live in San Diego. In this beautiful corner of Southern California, you can visit famous attractions like the San Diego Zoo and Del Mar Racetrack, enjoy a tasting flight at nationally renowned craft breweries, and determine for yourself who serves the best Mexican food. Ranked No. 36 by U.S. News in the 2019 list of Best Places to Live in the country, San Diego is a bustling hub for tourism, biotechnology, the military—and, of course, year-round sunny weather.
But beyond these reasons for why people love to live in San Diego, what makes “America’s Finest City” even more unique are the neighborhoods that it’s comprised of, each boasting its own special charm and character. Not sure which neighborhoods in San Diego are right for you? Start exploring with our handy San Diego neighborhood guide below.

San Diego Neighborhood Guide

Deciding where to live in San Diego depends a lot on your lifestyle needs and future goals. Get a quick overview of some of the most popular locations to help you with choosing a neighborhood:
This leisurely surf town is known for its beaches, gardens, and eclectic atmosphere. Hit the waves at Swami’s, stroll through the San Diego Botanic Garden, duck into one of the many eateries along the famous Highway 101—in Encinitas, there’s something for all interests and ages.
Ocean Beach
With its laid-back environment, Ocean Beach makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time into a classic SoCal beach town. Vintage boutiques, memorabilia stores, and surf shops line the streets, and of course beaches (even for dogs!) are central to this relaxed, bohemian neighborhood.
Minutes from Downtown San Diego and just north of Balboa Park, Hillcrest is characterized by its vibrant, welcoming environment. You can start your morning off with breakfast at any number of brunch spots, and end the day checking out the energetic nightlife—in Hillcrest, everyone will feel like they belong.

Already sold on San Diego? Contact us to chat more about the San Diego neighborhood that’s right for you!

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Little Italy
This quaint neighborhood is dedicated to its Italian roots, offering restaurant after restaurant of classic Italian kitchen food. Enjoy dinner and dessert any night of the week, or spend a Saturday morning with the family taking in the sights, smells, and tastes of the acclaimed Little Italy Mercato Farmers’ Market.
North Park
A dynamic community, North Park is home to many notable restaurants, indie shops, and popular craft breweries. From dinner and drinks on 30th Street to a live show at The Observatory, there’s always something to do in North Park that brings groups of friends together. 
Normal Heights
This small but charming neighborhood has a variety of independent eateries and coffee shops, clustered around the main street of Adams Avenue. Drawing many aspiring artists and musicians, Normal Heights hosts several free events for the community, like the annual Adams Avenue Unplugged music festival and the Art Around Adams art walk.
Chula Vista
Just east of the San Diego Bay, Chula Vista boasts a variety of activities to do. Learn about native wildlife at the Living Coast Discovery Center, zip through water slides at Aquatica San Diego, or catch a concert at the Mattress Firm Amphitheatre. With its scenic views, Chula Vista is true to its name as a beautiful place to live. 


The Right Partner to Help You Decide Where to Live in San Diego

Considering making the move to sunny San Diego? Shea Homes has a variety of communities across the San Diego area to accommodate every living style, as well as an online search tool that makes it easy to find the home of your dreams. What’s more, because we know how much thought goes into the decision to buy a new home, we’ve carefully put together resources to help you along the way. If you’re just getting started, we have your guide to the whole homebuying process, or if you’re ready to start exploring, we’ve created a checklist of things to look for in a new neighborhood. And of course, if you have any questions about our communities, or need any support throughout the homebuying process, feel free to contact us at any time.

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